According to a new study published in the first issue of Environmental Research: Climate, the imbalance of energy on Earth is the most important metric in order to gauge the size and effects of climate change. The study, conducted by distinguished scholar at the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Kevin Trenberth and climate scientist Lijing Cheng, found that the net energy imbalance is calculated by looking at how much heat is absorbed from the Sun and how much is able to radiate back into space, and that it is vital to understanding the climate crisis. The study also revealed that 93% of extra heat from the imbalance ends up in the Earth’s oceans, increasing their overall temperature and sea level, which has resulted in 2021 being the hottest global ocean recorded year to date.
How the Net Energy Imbalance is Calculated
The way we measure the net energy imbalance is by looking at how much heat is absorbed from the Sun, and how much heat is radiated back into space. We compare these two numbers to get the imbalance. Unfortunately, right now we can only estimate the imbalance indirectly. The most practical way to do this is by looking at the changes in energy over time.
The Total Energy Imbalance of the Earth System
The global mean surface temperature is only one metric to assess the total energy imbalance of the Earth system, which is the difference between the amount of energy entering the system from the sun, and the amount leaving the system to space.
It is important to understand where the surplus energy in the Earth system comes from and where it goes, in order to address the climate crisis. The global mean surface temperature is just one outcome of the total energy imbalance of the Earth system, which is the difference between the amount of energy entering the system from the sun, and the amount leaving the system to space.
The Excess Energy in Our Climate System
Excess energy from things like burning fossil fuels affects weather systems, which in turn increases the number or intensity of extreme weather events like heavy rains and flooding, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. Weather events naturally move energy around and help the climate system to get rid of energy by radiating it into space. But when there’s an imbalance of energy, like there is now, 93% of the extra heat ends up in the Earth’s oceans. This has been increasing their overall temperature and sea level, which is why 2021 is on track to be the hottest global ocean year on record.
Modeling the Earth’s energy imbalance
Modelling the Earth energy imbalance is challenging for many reasons. The relevant observations and their synthesis need improvements in order to get a clear understanding of how all forms of energy are distributed across the globe and are sequestered or radiated back to space. This would give us a much better understanding of our future and what we can expect. Change
Climate Change: Environmental Research change is one of the most prominent environmental issues of our time. Scientists are working to increase our understanding of how climate change will affect our environment and what we can do to mitigate its effects. Environmental research is essential to informing effective decision-making about how to protect our environment.
Climate change is a pressing issue that scientists are currently exploring. By conducting research, they hope to increase our understanding of how climate change will affect the environment and what we can do to reduce its impact. This research is essential in order to make informed decisions about how best to protect our environment.
Original study: Distinguished scholar at the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and highly cited lead author Kevin Trenberth together with climate scientist and co-author Lijing Cheng have made a new complete inventory of all the various sources of excess heat on Earth. He studied energy changes from the atmosphere, ocean, land, and ice as climate system components from 2000 to 2019 and compared this to the radiation at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere to find the imbalance.
Kevin E Trenberth and Lijing Cheng 2022 Environ. Res.: Climate 1 013001